On July 11th,
2006, the first thing I saw on CNN.com were — bomb blasts in Mumbai.
Was I surprised that it happened? No! Was I worried? Absolutely.
My brother and his family live in Mumbai. They use the railway system
extensively to commute. I frantically tried to get in touch with
them and around 9:00 PM PST got the good news that they all are
fine. Nothing to worry about — my family members are fine. But then
I started wondering, is it "nothing to worry about"? I
believe there is a lot to worry about.
This is not
the first time Mumbai has encountered the ugly face of terrorism.
There were horrific bomb blasts in 1993
and then in 2003.
These are just the major bomb blasts — there are more. Here
is the full list! Mumbaikars (or Bombayites) wear the blasts
as a badge of honor. The never-say-die attitude of the people has
put the city back on track after the most recent incident and the
city has always sprung back from every type of natural (while US
media was focused on Katrina in USA, Mumbai
faced its own battle with floods where approximately 1000 people
died) or man-made calamity. The spirit of Mumbai has been a source
of inspiration to many and I salute the brave and industrious people
of Mumbai for their courage and perseverance.
But on the
other side, as expected and right on cue, the Indian
Government came out in full force to chide Pakistan and Pakistan-based
militant Kashmiri outfits and blamed them for blasts. Most of the
people accepted the government explanation as truth (and maybe it
is true but why not ask questions?). We do not need any inquiries
into it. The media joined the chorus as if their function is to
merely be the mouthpiece of government. We know that it is Pakistan.
It is always outsiders funding some “crazies” every time something
goes wrong in India. Proud Indians will never fight against inefficient,
corrupt, unpredictable, unfair and almost tyrannical government.
Blame foreign countries every time there is trouble in India. That
has been government response as far back as I can remember. Trouble
in Punjab — Pakistanis are supporting the vulnerable Sikh youth.
Trouble in Assam — it’s the Chinese government. Riots during elections
— CIA wanted candidate X to win. The Government response (or should
I say lies) has been so consistent that most people believe it as
truth. No critical questions are asked or thought of. The government
will create new programs to stop the foreign terrorist infiltration
— more spending on the border, more bureaucracy, more red tape —
it is the same hackneyed story over and over again – all in
the name of protecting the poor citizenry. Indian government has
failed in its mission of protecting Bombayites (if we expect it
to be the minimum of government responsibility) or for that matter,
citizens in any part of the country consistently. What makes us
believe that next time they will be successful? If a private security
company had failed so frequently and miserably, we would have already
hung the CEO and all employees. But unfortunately, navely we have
accepted the "foreign-hand" doctrine as a perfect answer
to all our troubles.
Any major incident
of this magnitude provides us with a unique opportunity to ask questions,
reassess beliefs, conventional wisdom and do deep soul searching.
Why did it happen or why does it keep happening? If I believe the
Indian government story that these blasts were carried out by Kashmiri
terrorists, the obvious question will be why are they planting bombs
in Mumbai (which is more than 2000 Kilometers away from Kashmir)?
Could it be that the people of Kashmir want independence and to
not live under Indian government? The other important question (and
to me it is extremely important) is why should the Indian government
hold on to Kashmir? India has fought three wars over Kashmir with
no solution. The ongoing struggle has been astoundingly expensive
in terms of money and more tragically, human lives. Thousands of
innocent people have died (including Indian and Pakistani servicemen)
and continue to die (by the way, there was a bomb blast in Kashmir
(Srinagar) on the same day as the Mumbai blasts and six people died)
— for what reason? What has India gained by fighting for Kashmir
for almost 60 years? Are Kashmiris happier? Are people in other
parts of the country better off because of Kashmir being part of
India? I cannot come up with any positive answers. All I can see
is the government’s inability to accept the mistake of holding on
to Kashmir. Government (any party or ideology) has always ruled
ruthlessly with eyes only on absolute control and power — it is
not going to change any time soon. We will continue to sacrifice
for generations to come until we resist the temptation to accept
the government answers (lies) and revoke our absolute faith in government
As Vedran Vuk
very succinctly pointed out in this
article, it is the governments of India and Pakistan who are
responsible for this continued human tragedy. We cannot keep justifying
crimes of the present day by pointing to British government or Mughal
dynasty or past kings and queens. We are responsible for what happens
in India today — no one else. Kashmir was known as “Heaven on Earth”.
It is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. No outsiders
have been able to visit this amazing area for the last ten or more
years. We have not gained anything and lost a gorgeous chunk of
country during this struggle. This continued insanity has only empowered
the governments of both India and Pakistan.
Maybe it is
time to give up on Kashmir. Let Kashmiris decide what they want.
In fact, let people of every state decide what they want to do.
They want to secede? Let them. All we have to lose is a my-nose-belongs-everywhere
union government. And we will not miss it at all. I say, good riddance!
Trivedi [send him mail]
is a software consultant in Las Vegas, NV. His interests include
Indian classical music, sports, spirituality and free market economics.